ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLBT. 235 boldt his life. When he arrived at the top, he pro- ceeded onwards over the snow to cross a deep chasm, not imagining that the bridge over this chasm con- sisted only of a fragile layer of frozen snow. At the first step he sank, and would have been lost had not adequate assistance been at hand. Higher still than Picliiricha, in the Cordilleras of the Andes, lies an- other crater called Cotopaxi, which interested Hum- boldt all the more because it is the highest active volcano of the modern world. It is 17,892 feet (2952 toises) high, therefore, if the Brenner of Tyrol were placed on the top of the peak of Teneriffe, the two together would only be the absolute height of the OotopazL The whole district fears this volcano as ^ most dangerous enemy, for its eruptions have always been extremely desolating in their effects. In the year 1738 the flames rose 462 toises in circumference above the brim of the crater ; in 1740 its roaring was heard at a distance of 200 miles., at Honda, on the Magdalen stream ; in the year 1768 it ejected so many ashes that the air was darkened, and the nocturnal darkness lasted till three o'clock in the afternoon, so that the inhabi- tants of Hambata and Taeunga were obliged to go on the streets with lanterns; and in 1803, after Hum- boldt had been there, it spread great alarm, by one of the phenomena preceding the eruption, namely, that all the snow suddenly melted, evidencing a dreadful heat of the crater. In order to reach this dangerous volcano, Humboldt took the way south-east of the town of Quito, in the Andes. It was a journey of twelve (German) miles. The form of the mountain was majestic, colossal, and very regular in its cone. The tops, covered with a brilliant mantle of snow, shone in the setting sun in beautiful colours, and no irregularity of the soil, sto rock or stone intercepts the radiance of the white sur- face. Humboldt only remarked some dbagle dark pieces on the extreme verge of the crater, which, like those OB the peak of Tenerifife, resembled a will or rampart.